New Brunswick

Gallant sets higher target for female candidates in next year's election

Premier Brian Gallant has now set himself an even higher target as he tries to get at least 14 female Liberal candidates elected to the legislature, which is half the total number of open ridings.

After naming 3 men to cabinet this week, premier revises goal for additional women on ballot

Premier Brian Gallant is setting his sights on getting at least 14 women elected for the Liberals next year. (CBC)

Premier Brian Gallant has now set himself a higher target as he tries to get more women elected to the legislature.

The announcement by four Liberal MLAs, all men, that they won't run in next year's election creates even more openings for Gallant to recruit women candidates.

And Gallant himself appears to be revising his own objective upward.

We have to balance that with the will of the Liberal Party and the Liberal association in each riding to have a democratic process.-  Brian Gallant

In May, Gallant said he wanted half the candidates to be women in "unheld" ridings — constituencies the Liberals didn't win in 2014.

There are 23 such ridings, meaning he'd need 11 or 12 women to get to 50 per cent.

But Wednesday, Gallant subtly changed the threshold.

"We'll keep working toward the goal we set publicly," he said, "which is to have half the people nominated in ridings where we don't have an MLA, or an MLA who isn't running again, be women."

There are five ridings that the Liberals won in 2014 where the incumbent MLAs are not running again. That brings the total number of open ridings to 28, requiring 14 female Liberal candidates to achieve Gallant's goal.

Gallant said he thinks the party will get there.

"It's a possibility," he said. "We have to balance that with the will of the Liberal Party and the Liberal association in each riding to have a democratic process."

Power to name 3 female candidates

Party members in each riding choose their local candidates in a vote.

But the party has also given Gallant the power to appoint women to run in up to three ridings if that's what it takes to get closer to 50 per cent.

Three of the departures announced this week are in ridings that are historically Liberal-friendly: Victor Boudreau in Shediac-Beaubassin-Cap Pele, Donald Arseneault in Campbellton-Dalhousie, and Bertrand LeBlanc in Kent North.

Hedard Albert, the MLA from Caraquet, announced earlier that he won't run in 2018.

If women were nominated as Liberals in those ridings, they'd have a good chance of winning the seats and boosting the number of women in the legislature.

Not taking Liberal ridings for granted

Gallant, however, brushed off the idea that the newly open ridings would be easy to win.

"It's important for any political party to never take a riding for granted," he said.

The Liberals now have four female MLAs. The PC party also has four.

According to the Women 50 Per Cent group, which is pushing for half of all MLAs to be women after the next election, the Liberals have so far nominated four women while the PCs and Greens have each nominated one.

All three of the new Liberal ministers Gallant added to his cabinet this week are men: Benoit Bourque from Kent South, Andrew Harvey from Carleton-Victoria, and Gilles Lepage from Restigouche West.

Three of the four female Liberal MLAs, Cathy Rogers, Lisa Harris, and Francine Landry, are cabinet ministers. The only one who remains on the backbench is Monique LeBlanc from Moncton East.

Corrections

  • An earlier headline and secondary headline over this story suggested Premier Brian Gallant was revising his target for the number of Liberal women being elected to the legislature next year. In fact, he was talking about getting more women running for the Liberals next year.
    Sep 06, 2017 7:33 PM AT

About the Author

Jacques Poitras

Provincial Affairs reporter

Jacques Poitras has been CBC's provincial affairs reporter in New Brunswick since 2000. Raised in Moncton, he also produces the CBC political podcast Spin Reduxit.